Do You See Obstacles or Opportunities?

There’s an oft-told story that perfectly illustrates the next key distinction between anabolic and catabolic leaders.

A shoe company once sent two salespeople to a region of Africa in which the company had never sold any shoes. The first was Tom, one of their most experienced senior sales reps. They expected big things of Tom. 

The other was an eager rookie named Cynthia. She didn’t have much experience, but she had a lot of enthusiasm. They figured she might be able to sell a few pair of shoes. 

Shortly after the sales team’s arrival in Africa, Tom, the experienced salesperson wrote the home office saying, “You might as well bring me back. Nobody here wears shoes.” 

The rookie, Cynthia, wired the home office an urgent message, “Send me all the shoes you’ve got. Nobody here is wearing shoes!”

Do You See Problems or Opportunities?

Two people, faced with the same situation, yet having totally different reactions. What’s the difference between them? In a word, it’s energy—Tom is fueled by catabolic energy and Cynthia is fueled by anabolic energy. Looking through the lens of catabolic energy, leaders see obstacles and problems everywhere and in everything.

When they shift to the lens of anabolic energy, those same leaders become motivated to take action and capitalize on the plethora of opportunities and possibilities they perceive in every situation and circumstance.

Gripped by the Big 4 fear-fueled blocks of limiting beliefs, interpretations, assumptions and gremlins, leaders tend to focus on what’s wrong with their lives, their businesses and the world. When they choose to immerse themselves in a sea of destructive, catabolic energy, they complain, moan and don’t take a lot of action because they believe there are only more obstacles and problems ahead.

People with high anabolic energy—what Bruce D. Schneider refers to as Level 5 and above in his book Energy Leadership—get excited about transforming everything into an opportunity. They look at every situation and wonder what’s working, what’s right and what breakthrough might be next? They don’t see obstacles or problems, just thrilling adventures and fulfilling possibilities for making life even better.

While a leader fueled by catabolic energy might get upset and angry if one of his customers took his business to a competitor, a leader fueled by anabolic energy would look at that situation as an opportunity to, not only get the customer back, but to strengthen that and other client relationships by identifying and improving the factors that led to the customer’s dissatisfaction.

As you go through your day, look at your responses to what’s happening around you. Remember that your chosen perceptions calibrate your energy level and that energy level creates your reality. You always have the power to choose your response and shift from catabolic to anabolic energy. Neutralize the Negative Nellie voice in your head by getting curious—what’s working, what’s right and what breakthrough might be next?

Recapture your zest for living and step into your greatness TODAY by reclaiming your power to create the world you desire.

For help shifting your mindset to transform obstacles into opportunities, sign up below for a 60-minute complimentary coaching session.

Web copy used by permission. No reproduction or retransmission is permitted without expressed written consent of Bruce D Schneider and the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). ©2006-2016 Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)


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What clients say about
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“I knew Deborah before she became a Professional Life Coach. I’ve been amazed at how she has changed her life. When I decided it was time to begin making decisions about the next phase of my life, I knew immediately that Deborah was the person I wanted to work with. Her personal and professional experiences help her guide clients through coaching in a way that is individualized and delightfully eye-opening. Her warmth and sensitivity are immediately apparent, even over the phone. With gentle encouragement and permission, she will guide you through an examination of your life, including difficult experiences. She will help you gain insight from your past choices and then explore possibilities for moving forward in less encumbered ways. When you work with Deborah, your life will take on new meaning and your potential will be limitless!” Chris

“The work I did with Deborah continues to change my life. While I have learned many valuable lessons from her, the greatest was the deep insight that is available to me when I listen to and learn from my own inner wisdom. Her intuition, discernment and encouragement have taught me to trust my own intuition—creating new paths and possibilities for my life. One of Deborah’s great gifts is helping others respect and connect with their inner guidance and through that connection, to form a deeper, more meaningful bond with the collective wisdom and energy of all.” Ryan

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What readers say about
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“With the same energy and determination she applied in the professional world, Deborah has taken her considerable expertise in human potential and has now set her sights on the largest co-op in the world, humanity. ‘Choose Your Energy, Change Your Life!’ tackles what I believe are the most important questions we each must ask: who am I, where did I come from, why am I here, and what’s love got to do with it (cue Tina Turner)? These are not trivial or philosophical questions for the answers change what we do, why we do it, who and what we love. I am grateful for the opportunity to walk with Deborah on this critical journey.” JD Messenger, Award Winning Author of “11 Days in May: The Conversation That Will Change Your Life”

“To me the great thing about Deborah’s book is how ‘accessible’ she makes the ideas. The Oxygen Mask is probably the single best example. As with so many of the ideas in the book, she explains the principle in such a simple way that it’s got universal application to virtually any reader. I can imagine people having multiple moments of ‘Oh….I get it!’ throughout the book. The stories from her own life as well as stories of her clients’ experiences become stories about all of us—stories about which the reader will think, ‘I am living my own version of this.’ Well done—bravo!” Joe Calloway, Author of “Be The Best At What Matters Most”

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About djwlifecoach

As a retired board-certified coach, author and Reiki master teacher, I continue to share hope, possibilities and empowerment with the world. What's love got to do with minimizing stress and getting unstuck? Everything! My book, "Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!" (Hay House/Balboa Press 2013) shares my story and the stories of 10 of my clients along with my signature Discovery Framework. During my 30 years as an organization transformation consultant, I served as a senior partner in four of the world's largest, most prestigious global professional services firms. In 2005, I took a five-year sabbatical to find healing and peace because non-stop work had taken its toll. My recovery from burnout, including a sustained 80-pound weight loss and freedom from 10 years of debilitating depression, led to finding my purpose sharing hope, possibilities and empowerment with the world. Through healing and self-exploration, I discovered that loving yourself unconditionally is the key to transforming your personal life, your work and the world. With attention and intention, I learned to live in alignment with love through a wealth of energy-shifting tools and techniques that help me reduce stress, anxiety and overwhelm by releasing limiting beliefs, emotions and habits. My books, blog and radio episodes help individuals and organizations harness the transformative energy of love to turn unexplored possibilities into fulfilling realities and step into their greatness. Learn more and access FREE resources at For fun, I love singing, reading, sewing, knitting, golfing and movies. I live in Williamsburg, Virginia with my husband, Wilson, and the coaching cats who manage my life—SiddhaLee and Maisy Jane.
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